Monday, August 27, 2007

Guadalajara, week one

Finally, some good chocolate. I ate too much and got overexcited. The doctor said I seemed so healthy, why was my blood pressure high? I told him about the chocolate, but I had to get some lab tests anyway. We walked all over el centro de Guadalajara to find the lab, then I went back to pick up the results of the tests and take them to the doctor, 'cause that's how they do it here. While waiting I had a jovial conversation with the receptionist, who told me, "You speak Spanish well! I can understand you!" This seems to be the marker for "good" Spanish--is it completely incomprehensible, or just occasionally so? The Mexican people I've met so far are very forgiving. The doctor reviewed my results and told me not only that I was perfectly fine, but that he liked to walk all over Guadalajara himself. Then he gave me a big hug and said that if we needed a doctor along when we sailed to the South Pacific with a baby, he was available.

Wednesday 8/22, 9 am
The phone keeps ringing, followed by the distant echo of an extension. Suitcases exploded into haphazard piles of things we deemed necessary. The ceilings are twenty feet high, water stained, cracks running along the beams, painted in a nineteenth century green and white pattern of cornices, lilies and medallions. Glass wall sconces with electric candles, a wicker lampshade hanging high above the mottled tiles, a golden cupid with a broken switch. We are waiting. We probably don’t have much time. Time stretches out uncertainly. It snaps back without warning.

Friday 8/24, 11 am
The pollution and noise of the camiones on narrow streets, open doors revealing quiet rooms, a market fragrant with taco stands where women sold bushels of tuna and plastic cups filled with pomegranate seeds.

Our rooms at the Posada San Rafael. The real challenge lies in keeping the cleaning lady out, because we have contraband:

Things we never realized we wanted really badly.

Saturday 8/25, Restaurant Madoka, 3 pm
An old man sits at the counter beside an untouched glass of carrot juice. In the back of the room other men play dominoes, the surfaces of the tables worn from a half-century of games. A mariachi band serenades the group lingering over coffee and cigarettes in the center of the room. Smoke drifts up from the tables, spun in the metal fans. A perfectly executed club sandwich split into four triangles is delivered to another table. Our food is limp and alien. I haven’t been sleeping.

This espresso maker could teach Detroit's Big 3 a thing or two.

What are we doing here?

After a perfect lunch of organic fruits and vegetables and free range chicken, we wind up the day with a Big Mac. This is so wrong.

It's not as good as I remember from 5th grade and the fries are not hot. People put green salsa on them. I only ate maybe three bites of the Big Mac. But I think I ate a bunch of fries.

Sunday afternoon, 8/26
We’re going to die, Adam said. It’s all pointless. We were walking back from the antique market, stalls filled with things once owned by people who had died. There were a lot of old watches. Waiting for people for whom the measurement of time still means something. We ended up at the University of Guadalajara art cinema, currently presenting an Ingmar Bergman retrospective. We arrived just as The Seventh Seal (El Séptimo Sello) was about to start--a film about a man who plays chess with death. The couple with a baby escape his fate, temporarily.

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